Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Thankless Task

Sometimes governing is a thankless task. I feel for Dominique Bussereau. His role required him to keep repeating that "there is no gasoline shortage in France, there will be no gasoline shortage in France," even though the very news programs on which he appeared featured clips of closed service stations and long lines at the pumps of open ones just before he spoke. But it was job to jouer les cons, lest hoarding of the available gas make the situation worse. Still, he might have handled the job better, since the flat denial of reality only reinforces fear.

Nevertheless, fuel supplies have proved to be a choke point in this crisis. In 1995, it was public transport, but this time, for reasons I don't fully understand, more trains are running than one might expect. But fuel is short, people can't get to work, and this is a problem for the economy larger than the disruptions due to striking workers per se. Sarko today ordered the fuel storage facilities unblocked, and Hortefeux has dutifully sent in the CRS. So we'll wait to see what happens next.

Mélenchon: Victory Is Nigh!

How does he know? Simple. He's the cynosure of all eyes:

En témoigne à sa façon la vente de mon livre « Qu’il s’en aillent tous, vite la révolution citoyenne » qui vient d’être dans la liste des meilleures ventes d’essais de « l’Express » dès son cinquième jour de présence en librairie. En témoigne aussi le succès du meeting parisien au théâtre Dejazet lundi soir. Si j’évoque tout cela, ce n’est pas pour faire ici un compte rendu d’activité du parti car ce n’en est pas le lieu. Je le fais parce que cela modifie ma propre perception de ma place dans les évènements qui vont leur chemin. Il en est ainsi car les circonstances et quelques campagnes de dénigrements à contre emploi m’ont catapulté dans l’estime de toute sorte de gens qui viennent me le dire à moi et à mes camarades. La haine dont je suis dorénavant entouré chez les belles personnes est un symptôme de cela. Je suis frappé de voir comment des gens que je ne connais pas, qui ne m’ont pas lu, ni cette fois ci ni aucune autre, qui ne savent rien de mon action passé ni même actuelle, peuvent me traiter dans leur commentaires. Pour n’en citer qu’un, bien dans le ton des perruches indignées l’autre jour sur Canal, je vous livre ces lignes de monsieur Renaud Revel sur l’express.fr ...

Well, I wouldn't want to be mistaken for une perruche indignée, so I will refrain from commenting on this delightfully narcissistic passage. Some find the whiff of grapeshot (or tear gas) intoxicating, but I suspect that a greater number do not.

Strategery

President Sarkozy said yesterday that he isn't staring down the demonstrators "de gaïeté de coeur," but one suspects he isn't entirely displeased with the opportunity to hang tough. And then there's another benefit to taking a firm stand: it exposes the divisions in the opposition. It's no secret that the likely candidate of the Left, Dominique Strauss-Kahn, does not agree with the official Socialist Party position on the age of retirement. And now the left wing of the party is pressing Martine Aubry "not to cut the party off from the social movement." In other words, give them bread and circuses. Responsibility is for people in government. The opposition can say anything, unconstrained by the mundane worries of budgets, demographics, and capital markets. So far Aubry isn't taking the bait, but the primaries lie ahead, and the current rumbling on the PS left augurs a bitter free-for-all. Sarkozy no doubt couldn't be more pleased.